A man carries a basket on a path in a mangrove landscape in Senegal


Promoting peace in Casamance

In Casamance, a region in southern Senegal, peace is fragile. FC projects initiated pioneering work related to the Casamance conflict and supported the reconstruction of social and economic infrastructure. The project was very well received by the population.

On behalf of the Federal Government

KfW has been supporting the German Federal Government in implementing its development-policy goals since 1960 within the scope of Financial Cooperation (FC). We combine financing know-how with development-policy expertise. On behalf of the German Federal Government, and primarily the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), we promote and support programmes and projects that mainly involve public-sector players in developing and emerging economies.

“Peacetime economy” is to contribute to conflict resolution

Casamance lies in the south of the country, cut off from the rest of Senegal. For many years, the central government in Dakar neglected the region. Poverty rates reached almost 80 per cent. This is one of the reasons why rebels had been fighting for Casamance’s independence for 35 years. The conflict was complicated by the rebels getting involved with neighbouring Gambia and Guinea-Bissau. The region’s infrastructure increasingly fell into disrepair and investors stayed away – a negative spiral that only increased the willingness to engage in further violent confrontation. Tens of thousands fled the region.

The last few years have brought new hope. Senegal is purposefully trying to promote the region and has been conducting peace talks with at least some of the rebel groups since 2012. Weapons have been laid down. A programme for the reconstruction and revival of economic and social activities was launched with the participation of international donors. The aim is to develop a “peace economy”. According to the programme’s theory of change, motivation for solving conflicts in a violent manner diminishes if people are better off. At the same time, enhanced public services should make the value of peace visible. An ambitious yet highly relevant concept.

Measuring success

Whether a project is succesful or not is determined chiefly by asking the following questions: What has the project achieved for the people in the partner country? Has their situation improved in the long run? Three to five years after a project has been completed, the independent Evaluation Unit of KfW Development Bank conducts an independent evaluation for roughly half of the projects completed to draw lessons learned for future projects and programmes.

More information on KfW's evaluation work

Infrastructure measures in the crisis region

FC financed large-scale projects, such as roads and irrigation systems, as well as “basic services” proposed by the local communities, such as schools, health stations, water supply, social centres, markets and bus stops. More than 100 individual projects were purposefully implemented in those parts of Casamance which, up to that point, had been ignored by both the central government and international donors because of the delicate security situation. Some pioneering work was carried out. To avoid stirring up the conflict unintentionally, the “do-no-harm” principle was always followed: projects opposed by any of the conflict parties were not implemented; everyone had to benefit as equally as possible. For example, an envisaged gravel road was not built when local rebel groups spoke out against it. It did take a few years for all the measures to be implemented, but it was worth the effort.

Drummer Senegal
Joy ...

... over new, peaceful prospects in Casamance.

During the ex post evaluation carried out five to eight years after the work was completed, the locals repeatedly stressed how much the infrastructure was appreciated by all and how much it was used. One mayor spontaneously demanded the programme be continued. The evaluation mission found only two investments not in use: two farming irrigation systems damaged by heavy rainfall, possibly a consequence of climate change. The FC measures have visibly improved living conditions in Casamance, albeit only in certain areas.

When asked about the impact the projects had on peace, several interviewees stated that the investments reduce the feeling of exclusion and neglect, which was one of the roots of the conflict. Things are moving again in Casamance alongside the FC commitment. Flight and ferry connections to Dakar are on the rise. School enrolment rates have even exceeded the national average.

Cover evaluation report

This article is taken from the 15th Evaluation Report, published in June 2019. The report documents the work of Financial Cooperation for the years 2017-2018.

See the issue

Peace in Casamance remains fragile though. Even if weapons were silenced and the conflict has come to a standstill, the desire for independence has never been completely extinguished. FC is continuing its engagement for peace in Casamance. The mayor, whose wish is thus fulfilled, will be pleased – and he is certainly not alone.

Result: “good” – rating 2

Published on KfW Stories: Thursday, 6 June 2019